Diet Culture In The Media: How Does It Impact Us?



Diet culture is all around us and the media is no exception. In fact, the media is a huge contributor to diet culture in many ways. This is a major struggle for most people beginning a journey towards intuitive eating. It’s hard to continue to reject the idea that you need to diet when the message all around you is just the opposite. In fact, the dieting message is so pervasive that many of us actually feel like we are doing something weird/wrong by not dieting! Whether it’s looking at all the fitspo posts that exist on social media, or the many ads in magazines or on tv for weight loss programs of all sort of forms, or shows on tv that directly promote weight loss, the message that we cannot be happy until we lose weight is everywhere. 

Given that diet culture is so pervasive, how can we protect ourselves from the negative influence this has? Especially when first embarking on the journey to become a more intuitive eater? It’s practically impossible to shield ourselves from diet culture completely, but we do have a large degree of control. We have control of what we see in our social media. We can unfollow those accounts that preach diet and constant intense exercise. We can begin following people in the body positivity community (you might be surprised how many people are out there!) Doing a cleanup of all your social media in this way can have a large impact on how you feel about yourself and your body. (Maybe even take a complete social media break for a period of time before you do this).  Be mindful of the magazines and books you read, shows you watch, podcasts you chose to listen to etc.

This is not a do once and your done type task and can be difficult to put in practice. It is something that we have to continue to do on a day to day basis. I still am frequently deleting accounts on my social media, and certainly am continuing to evaluate the other media I chose to consume.  One thing that has been particularly difficult for me to give up is reality based diet shows. I’ve always loved them.

Speaking of reality tv shows, a great example of a total failure on my part to do these things I’ve just mentioned happened last night. I decided to watch two episodes of a show called My Diet Is Better Than Yours. At first, I was interested. Curious about the show and how the contestants were going to do on their chosen diets. Soon enough however, I found myself getting very angry and jealous as the contestants all posted large weight losses at the end of the first episode. I continued on to watch another episode (again not a decision I’m proud of), and found this episode made me incredibly sad. The contestants started to see their weight loss slow and get frustrated. There was also a very profound scene where one of the contestants freaked out because her trainer gave her a quarter of a vegan cookie and she ended up flat out refusing to eat it. 

I wanted to tell you all this story because even though my choice of media was a fairly obviously terrible one from the get go, I want you to know that these types of mistakes will likely happen on your journey towards eating more intuitively especially in the beginning. Also, the process I went through while watching the show was important and something that can benefit everyone working towards being an intuitive eater. When we are evaluating our media choices, it is important to do so by really paying attention to our emotional state while we consume media, as I was. If you become aware something you are reading, watching, or listening to is making you feel sad, angry, and bad about your body, it’s time to stop, put it down/turn it off, and go focus your attention on something else.

This is true whether the source is something that is likely to be triggering like the show I watched was, or something that takes you a little more by surprise. While there are elements of being exposed to diet culture that we don’t have a lot of control over, there are plenty of areas where we do, and using that power to say no I’m not going to let myself be exposed to this is a powerful thing.  Needless to say, I’m using that power to choose to no longer watch that show.


Do you have any questions about limiting how much you are exposed to dieting culture? Let me know!